KEITH'S CONGRESSIONAL CORNER


The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution.”
- Albert Einstein

 

The last month has been very busy for AFA.

 

AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando set records for attendance and exhibits, and generated a great deal of excitement by highlighting innovation—one of the keys for maintaining our nation’s lead on near-peer competitor countries and ensuring more of our warfighters return home after military operations.

 

Last week, AFA hosted the first AFA Summit: The Future Air Force Pilot Force. The forum on pilot recruitment and retention shortfalls featured working groups and group discussions between Air Force leaders and experts from industry, think tanks, and non-profit organizations on Air Force initiatives and opportunities to broaden the national pilot base, while making it more inclusive. In addition to AFA’s President Gen Larry Spencer and Chairman of the Board former Secretary Whit Peters, Chief of Staff Gen David Goldfein, Gen (Ret.) ‘Hawk’ Carlisle, Gen (Ret.) Richard Cody, and Gen (Ret.) ‘Fig’ Newton attended.
 
AFA supported a Capitol Hill “Bleed Blue” event for the Air Force, which included five of the 2017 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, Under Secretary of the Air Force Matt Donovan, Air Force leaders, and several congressmen, and staffers. Bleed Blue events align senior Air Force leaders with former Air Force blue suiters who work on Capitol Hill.
 
I also testified on behalf of AFA before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel in a hearing on Arlington National Cemetery. The sad fact is that Arlington National Cemetery is running out of space and will not be viable beyond the early 2040s unless more land is procured or current eligibility requirements are changed. Details are below.
Watch a video of the hearing here.
 
Now, what has Congress been up to?
 
Congress selected members for a new Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform. Perhaps this will help prevent future budget logjams that have stymied Washington.
 
Meanwhile, the federal government continues to operate under the 5th continuing resolution (CR) which funds the government at Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 levels through March 23, 2018. Last week, Congress began holding budget posture hearings for the FY 2019 Defense Authorization and Defense Appropriations bills.
 
AFA welcomes your help. To assist with advocacy messaging, please see “AFA’s Legislative Issues – 2018” document.
AFA's Legislative Issues - 2018.


AIR FORCE HIGHLIGHTS

Avoid Restricting Eligibility for Arlington Burials, AFA Says
AirForceMag.com | 8 Mar 2018 | by Steve Hirsch, Air Force Magazine
 
The Air Force Association Thursday came out strongly in favor of pursuing all available options, including expansion, to deal with looming exhaustion of space at Arlington National Cemetery before limiting eligibility.
 
Keith Zuegel, AFA’s senior director of government relations and a retired Air Force colonel, was one of a number of witnesses from military and veterans’ service organizations testifying on the issue during a hearing held by the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.
 
The Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery said in January that a survey of 28,000 veterans, service members, military families, and the public found “nearly unanimous support” for keeping the cemetery active for new burials well into the future.
Read more.
 
Vets groups oppose new burial restrictions on Arlington Cemetery, but officials see few options
MilitaryTimes.com | 8 Mar 2018 | by Leo Shane III
 
Veterans groups on Thursday opposed the idea of severely restricting eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery in coming years to ensure the viability of the iconic landmark for decades to come. But military officials said they don’t see another realistic choice.
Read more.


Goldfein: Solutions for the Pilot Crisis Center on Diversity
AirForceMag.com | 7 Mar 2018 | by John A. Tirpak, Air Force Magazine
 
The Air Force’s pilot shortage crisis offers “an opportunity for bold moves” to build the service’s diversity while correcting the growing deficit in aviators, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Wednesday at the conclusion of a daylong summit on the problem.
 
Those moves might include grouping minority pilot trainees together at flight school in order to have a built-in support system, building tighter relationships with community groups that promote minorities and women in aviation, making better use of Civil Air Patrol community outreach, and having pilot trainees meet with local schoolchildren as they make stops on cross-country flights.
 
Participants in the summit, held at AFA’s Arlington, Va., headquarters, included hand-picked Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve pilots from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, as well as representatives of the airlines, minority-oriented professional aviation groups, Air Education and Training Command, Junior ROTC, and aviation-oriented schools and colleges.
Read more.

US Air Force orders freeze on public outreach
DefenseNews.com | 13 Mar 2018 | By Valerie Insinna, David B. Larter, and Aaron Mehta
 
The U.S. Air Force is slashing access to media embeds, base visits and interviews as it seeks to put the entire public affairs apparatus through retraining — a move it says is necessary for operational security, but one which could lead to a broader freeze in how the service interacts with the public.
Read more.
OPSEC and Public Engagement Reset Memo.
AFA Statement on Air Force Restrictions of Public Outreach.
 
Air Force in Crisis, Part I: Why Pilot Retention Matters Right Now
WarOnTheRocks.com | 28 Feb 2018 | by Maj Mike Benitez
 
The current military pilot retention crisis is not the first, and it won’t be the last. If things don’t change, the U.S. military is set to endure the 
longest and largest pilot exodus in history. The signs are already there — the Air Force has failed to meet its annual pilot retention goal for the past four years and pilot retention has been trending downward since 2010, according to the internal data from the U.S. Air Force Aircrew Crisis Task Force. Read more.
 
Air Force in Crisis, Part II: How Did We Get Here?
WarOnTheRocks.com | 8 Mar 2018 | by Maj Mike Benitez
 
The U.S. Air Force is 2,000 pilots short, and the shortage is getting worse. Of the 2,000 pilots the Air Force is currently short, 1,300 of those are fighter pilots. Since the Air Force produces roughly 300 fighter pilots a year, simple math says it took more than a few years of shortages for this crisis to manifest. Distilling internal Air Force retention data by flying community reveals the true crisis: the Air Force has not met its fighter pilot retention goal in 10 years.

Fighter pilot retention started falling below overall pilot retention in 2008. So, what happened?
Read more.
 
Chairman Rogers: Space Corps Needed More Than Ever, Air Force ‘In Denial’
SpaceNews.com | 28 Feb 2018 | by Sandra Erwin
 
The chairman and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee ripped U.S. Air Force leaders for not taking threats in space seriously and for their continued resistance to reform.
 
Speaking on Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rep. Mike Rogers and the subcommittee’s top Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper presented a united front, criticizing the Air Force for stalling legislative changes that Congress passed last year to reorganize military space programs and accelerate the development of next-generation technologies.
Read more.

QUOTES TO NOTE

“[Diversity is] part of the fabric of the Air Force. It is part of the fabric of who we are.”
- Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff, US Air Force
 
“Space is a war-fighting domain just like the land, air, and sea. We may even have a space force—develop another one—space force. We have the Air Force, we’ll have the space force. We have the Army, the Navy.”
- President Donald J. Trump
 
“We have found over the years the Air Force used the space budget as a money pot to fund the air dominance program…that doesn’t mean you starve to death one of your subordinate missions to feed another mission you view as more important. That is why space capabilities have atrophied.”
- Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman, House Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces Subcommittee
 
"It is time for us as a service, regardless of specialty badge, to embrace space superiority with the same passion and sense of ownership as we apply today to air superiority."
- Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff, US Air Force at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium


KEY DATES TO WATCH

2017
   
Oct 1 Fiscal Year 2018 Began  
     
2018    
Feb 12 FY 2019 President's Budget Released  
Mar 23 5th FY 2019 CR Expires  
Mar 30 AFA Breakfast Series, Capitol Hill Edition, with Secretary Heather Wilson  
Apr 11 AFA Breakfast Series with Gen. Robin Rand, Sheraton Pentagon City  
Apr 18 Vietnam Helicopter Pilot and Crewmember Monument Dedication Ceremony, Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater  
May 24 AFA Breakfast Series, Capitol Hill Edition, with Gen. John Raymond, Capitol Hill Club  
Sep 17-19 Air, Space & Cyber Conference, Gaylord National Hotel, National Harbor  
     

If you have questions, please contact:

Keith Zuegel
Senior Director, Government Relations
Air Force Association (AFA)


GRL@afa.org

 
 
 

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